A Vietnamese woman has been jailed after she was made to grow £136,000 worth of cannabis in Doncaster to pay back the cost of her illegal journey to the UK.
Yen Le, aged 47, was forced into prostitution to repay the 4,000 Euro demanded by the people who helped her to enter the country.
But due to her age, she was soon deemed ‘unprofitable’ and was later pressured to run a cannabis farm with 302 plants worth £135,900.
Sheffield Crown Court heard her boyfriend, Ha Ngo, helped her to ‘garden’ the plants at a house in Dunscroft because he knew there were ‘nasty people’ forcing her to do it.
Ian West, prosecuting, said: “Police attended on November 13. “The electricity had been by-passed some time ago – in the view of the police, that was before these two defendants were involved.
“What can only be described as a large scale cannabis production was set up. There were plants in varying stages of growth.”
Michael Cane-Southill, for Le, said: “As a consequence of coming to this country, she owed people 4,000 Euros.
“She was given jobs to do - some less savoury than others. She was forced to work in a brothel but she is at an age where that did not prove very ‘profitable’.
“She moved onto childminding and working in restaurants.”
Le managed to run away from the situation for 12 months but she was found again and told that if she did not do as she was told, ‘unpleasant things’ would happen to her family back in Vietnam.
Mr Cane-Southill said: “In many ways she has been exploited. The phrase she has used to me is that she is ‘paying the price’ now.”
Lucy Brown, for Ngo, said he had gone on holiday and when he returned the cannabis set-up was in place.
She said: “He assisted her because of the fear she was under. He regrets not dealing with the situation in a very different way.”
Ngo, now of Peckham, London, was sentenced to eight months in custody, of which he has already served over half, so he has therefore been released from prison on licence.
Le, now of Roundhay Road, Leeds, was jailed for two and a half years. It is likely she will be sent back to Vietnam when she is released.
Her Hon Mrs Geraldine Justice Andrews said: “I understand the pressures you were under were significant mitigating features.”